Memento opening scene

Memento is a film about a man, called Lenny, who seeks to find the man who raped and killed his wife during a burglary. What makes this harder for him is that he suffers from short-term memory loss. To cope with his condition, he takes many photographs with his Polaroid camera and tattoos his body in order to direct him to the man who killed his wife. The film is directed by Christopher Nolan, and Guy Pearce stars as Lenny.

The film opens with slow, peaceful music. The music chosen by Nolan is perfect; it gives the audience a calm peaceful atmosphere, settling the audience to contrast what is to come soon on. Additionally, as one note changes to the other, the previous note can still be heard, fading into the background until gone, much like Lenny’s memory.

The credits fade into blue, and then fade out to white. This is a perfect representation of Lenny’s memory; because as he learns about the past it quickly fades away. The choice of colours Nolan chose are very effective. White represents purity and innocence, this is chosen well as Lenny believes he is doing the right thing, yet he lacks depth stability to hold onto his memories, which is commonly associated with the colour blue.

After part of the credits, a Polaroid picture appears on the screen. Held by a clean, gentle looking hand. On the picture, we see a dead body, with large amounts of blood on the wall behind it. Nolan does this to make the audience feel the aggression and power of the kill. Despite this, the calm and peaceful atmosphere still lingers, the music still plays and we notice the background is green, unlike the white background in the picture. This and safe looking hand, gives the audience some distance from the murder, making them feel safer and further away from the murder. Because of this, the audience will feel upset for the Lenny who is holding it.

Lenny begins shaking the Polaroid, and the ink begins to fade away. This tells the audience that the scene is actually in reverse. Nolan does this because we, like Lenny, do not know any events that have occurred in the past. The audience also learn at this point that the movie will be is a ‘reverse mode’. The scenes are chronologically going in reverse but they are actually played forwards.

The ink fades from the Polaroid completely, and the camera angle changes and begins to follow the Polaroid until the picture was taken. Once Lenny moves the camera from his face, the audience sees Lenny for the first time. He looks nervous, and the scratch on his face discourages us from believing that the clean hand holding the photo earlier is actually him. Also the music stops at the camera flash, and the audience feelings change to the new music playing; eerie and suspicious. The hand was misleading, as well as the colour of the walls seen in the previous shot. This makes the audience become suspicious about Lenny, and to wonder why he is really there.

Our feelings for Lenny have completely changed as we discover more about him. The audience first felt that he was a good guy, but now the audience are starting to believe that Lenny is a cold-hearted murdered. Nolan arouses these suspicious to draw the audience into the story.

Nolan gives hints in the scene that Lenny has killed before. Firstly, when we see his face, his expression is rather dull and emotionless, and shows no regret or guilt what so ever. Nolan also makes a clear connection between the camera and a gun. For example, Lenny slips his camera out of the inside of his jacket like it was a gun. The camera flash also sounds like a bullet is being fired. Furthermore this heightens our feelings on Lenny, making us even more suspicious about Lenny.

As the scene goes on, we see blood climbing up Teddy’s skin. This is a very powerful clip as it extends the brutality seen previously in the Polaroid. The gore of it sends the audience a shock, and emphasis the power of the kill.

The extreme close up of the bullet overpowers the audience, and leaves a cold shadow over them. It informs the audience that it was defiantly murder that had taken place, and that it was by a gun.

The glasses, thought bloodstained and cracked, stereotype an intelligent, good person. We assume that whomever they belonged too was innocent of death, and therefore making the audience feel worse about Lenny. Glasses usually help one to see better, yet with no face behind them the audience themselves find it hard to see the mystery of the man, and therefore making his death seem unreasonable.

The low angle shot of Lenny makes the audience feel smaller than he is, making him seem more dominant, powerful and threatening. Nolan does this to keep pressuring the thought on the audience that Lenny is the killer.

In conclusion, Nolan uses many effects in the first scene to establish a general feeling from the audience, that Lenny is a killer. Nolan has used various types of effects to deliver his messages.

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